Best Outdoor Bar Carts

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

21 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
113 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best outdoor bar carts

Last Updated June 2019

Whether it’s your regular weekend barbecue or you’re hosting a posh outdoor event, an outdoor bar cart comes in handy for beverages of all sorts. An outdoor bar cart may be as sophisticated as its indoor brethren, suitable for displaying top-shelf liquors and mixers. At the other end of the spectrum, it may be more utilitarian, simply offering mobile shelves and storage.

With outdoor bar carts, you can choose from a range of materials, styles, and sizes to fit a large patio or a small balcony. One of the most useful features of bar carts is that they are portable, so you’ll want one that’s easily maneuverable so you can bring the party with you.

Our shopping guide outlines all you need to consider when shopping for the ideal bar cart for your outdoor space. If you’re interested in our top picks for the best al fresco carts on the market, check out the matrix above.

Simple outdoor bar carts with multi-purpose storage shelves can be useful for other purposes, too. Aside from serving food, you can also use them to display plants or for outdoor storage of gardening tools or pool toys.

Key considerations

Style

You can find an outdoor bar cart to suit any design taste, from sleek, minimal styles to classic mid-century modern. Some carts are rustic, others retro, and some are whimsical or themed (think Margaritaville). Choose an outdoor bar cart that complements your outdoor space.

That said, if you are looking to mix fancy drinks, you’ll need an outdoor bar cart that can safely hold and display bottles, and you may want to choose a cart that is designed to look like a traditional bar cart. If you prefer to use the cart for serve-yourself beverages, a simple design with lots of shelves for holding ice buckets or small kegs may be more your style.

The perfect solution for casual parties and BBQs

This outdoor bar cart is the ultimate serve-yourself option. The insulted cooler can keep ice cold for days and even chills drinks throughout the day in the summer heat. The two-sided top allows for easy access, and the built-in bottle opener is a nice touch. Despite being robust, it’s also lightweight and easy to maneuver. The high-grade stainless steel gives this cart an on-trend look.

Materials

Make sure you choose a cart specifically designed for the outdoors. These bar carts will generally be made of powder-coated steel, stainless steel, or hardwoods like eucalyptus, acacia, or teak. Other popular outdoor-safe materials include weather-resistant wicker or rattan, tempered glass, plastic, resin, and polypropene.

Some high-end outdoor bar carts are designed to be permanently kept outside, perhaps as a modular part of an outdoor kitchen. These are generally heavy-duty, although they will still have wheels to allow for repositioning. Lower-end bar carts can be left outside, and often are over the summer, but they will last longer if they are stored inside and wheeled out when needed.

Size

If you have a small patio or plan to use your bar cart on a balcony, you will want to stick to smaller carts. No matter what size you choose, make sure you can easily maneuver your cart outside through any doors or passages in your path. If you are also using the bar cart to serve food, make sure it’s wide enough to hold several plates or trays. Also, consider where you are going to store your cart when it’s not in use, which may affect the size you choose.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bar carts evolved from the Victorian-era tea trolley for high tea, which is still a good use for them today.

Features

Wheels

You want your outdoor bar cart to be mobile, so wheels are a must-have. Some carts have two wheels and can be moved like a wheelbarrow. Others have four wheels. If that’s the case, make sure at least two of the wheels have a brake mechanism so you can keep the cart steady once it’s parked. Wheels that swivel tend to be easier to maneuver.

Shelves

Some minimal carts just have a top and bottom shelf. You will often find bar carts like this in a very modern design or a classic mid-century look. Some outdoor bar carts have multiple shelves for a utilitarian look.

Cooler

Some outdoor bar carts have a built-in insulated cooler. If so, make sure there is a plug so you can drain out the water once the ice has melted.

Bottle opener

You can often find a built-in bottle opener on the side of a bar cart, especially if it is one with a cooler. If not, make sure your bar cart is stocked with one!

Additional storage

You can find outdoor bar carts with bottle holders built in as well as holders for other bar tools or beverages. Some have wire racks to lay wine or other bottles flat. You can also find carts with a removable ice bucket or tray.

Consider whether you have to negotiate your bar cart up and down stairs to get it outside. If so, you should ensure the cart can be easily lifted, so look for a lightweight design that you can grab at either end.

Outdoor bar cart prices

You can find small outdoor bar carts for a very reasonable amount, around $50 to $75. For a larger, moderate-size bar cart, expect to pay between $150 and $300.

There are some high-end outdoor bar carts in the $800 range. These should have a quality build and premium materials. The sky is the limit, though – you can find designer bar carts for several thousand dollars.

EXPERT TIP

For a summer party, consider giving your outdoor bar cart a distinct role, such as a champagne station, lemonade stand, or fancy water station with a variety of flavored waters to keep everyone hydrated.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Even if you leave your bar cart outside, make sure to bring in any drinks since they will spoil if left out.
  • If your bar cart has a built-in cooler, always empty out the water from the melted ice after use. Take a sponge and mop up the water that’s left after you pull the drain plug, and dry with a towel. That way you’ll avoid mildew forming in the cooler.
  • This might seem obvious, but only stock your bar cart once it’s in place outside. Aside from not breaking anything while transporting your cart, it will be a lot lighter to move when empty.
  • Consider adding coordinated accessories like an ice bucket, serving tray, pitchers, and tumblers that complement your outdoor bar cart.

Multi-purpose functionality

We can think of all sorts of uses for this fun outdoor bar cart, which comes in an array of bright colors. The two slatted shelves are sturdy, with each one capable of supporting 75 pounds. A great choice for apartment balconies or small patios, this cart is also perfect for anyone short on storage since it can fold flat. It also looks smart enough to use indoors.

Other products we considered

For very small spaces or for an additional cart for a large party, we like the DESIGNA Metal Rolling Storage Cart. The three baskets come on rolling wheels (two are lockable) and can hold a variety of bottles and accessories. The contemporary design and vibrant color options make it a functional and fun outdoor bar cart. The Giantex Rolling Rattan Bar Cart, on the other hand, is a larger, more traditional, purpose-built bar cart. The spacious, tempered glass top makes a nice display for drinks and glassware, and the large bottom drawer can safely store a number of bar accessories. The synthetic polyethylene rattan is easy to maintain while still imparting a classic look to complement patio furniture.

If you want to go for a full bar, you’ll need tequila, Scotch, white rum, gin, vodka, bourbon, and vermouth. Add to that Angostura bitters, simple syrup, soda water, tonic water, and Clamato. With some olives, lemons, oranges, cherries, and limes, you’ll be ready to serve up all the classic cocktails.

FAQ

Q. How do I keep my outdoor bar cart clean?
A.
If your bar cart develops mildew from being outside, you can find many products on the market to remove it, but wiping down the cart with diluted white vinegar or bleach works, too. For stainless steel, Bar Keeper’s Friend is good cleaner to have on hand.

Q. Is it okay to leave an outdoor bar cart outside year-round?
A.
If you leave your bar cart outside all the time, invest in a cover to prevent fading or weather damage, regardless of the material. If you are short on indoor storage space, you may want to consider a folding bar cart that can be stacked away.

Q. Are there outdoor furniture sets that include bar carts?
A.
Bar carts are rarely included in the classic patio set, which is usually a table, chairs, and possibly a bar counter. You can choose an outdoor bar cart in a design and material that matches your patio furniture, though, especially if you have rattan or wood furniture. Or go for a cart in a pop of color to avoid being too matchy.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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